Skip to comments.Obama planning a Dept of Truthiness?
Posted on 05/10/2010 1:37:13 PM PDT by opentalk
Is the Obama Administration preparing the ground for a Ministry of Truthiness? The President's latest wide-ranging speech at Hampton University made a halt at a very strange outpost, before moving on to education. Obama, it seems, is vexed by the idea of conspiracy theories. Apparently people aren't thinking the right thoughts.
Obama's internet Yoda, Professor Cass Sunstein*, is also besotted with the idea. Two years ago, Sunstein proposed what you might call an 'active government solution' to conspiracies.
The best way to counter conspiracy theories, Sunstein and co-author Adrian Vermeule argued, is with the "cognitive infiltration of extremist groups". This would entail government sponsoring fake "experts" to appear on the media to provide their own disinformation. It's as surreal, in its way, as discovering that the CIA sponsored abstract expressionist artists during the Cold War.
No one is more influential in devising Obama's internet policy than the prolific Professor Sunstein, on leave from Harvard's Law School, Obama's alma mater. His fingerprints are all over Obama's latest speech.
At Hampton, Obama warned students they were "coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank all that high on the truth meter", fretting that "some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction".
What did he mean? He specifically mentioned people who think that government is "inherently bad". This, he said, puts democracy at risk.
But people who believe this include many of Obama's predecessors - through which democracy survived - and a substantial section of public opinion. The belief that a bureaucracy creates work for itself, or that state programs created with the best intentions often produce sub-optimal results, is quite legitimate. Holding such an opinion doesn't make one a bomb-throwing anarchist. Lumping extremists who intend to harm together with opponents of expansive government doesn't seem particularly honest.
Sunstein's writing swings wildly between technology utopianism, such as lauding the Hive Mind in his 2005 Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge, and dystopianism. His 2000 book Republic.com (PDF via Google) warned of a world where wider choice of information meant people only read material that only confirmed their own prejudices.
These look like two polarities, but in fact they're sides of the same coin: they arise from the belief that ordinary people can't think rationally and make up their own minds. Both naturally lead to paternalism, because some kind of benevolent agency is required to save us from ourselves. Sunstein has a very clear idea of what this might be.
It's a problematic solution, however. Many may wonder what place government has to counter falsehood with fake experts - isn't this another form of deception, only one at the taxpayer's expense?
The language reflects an odd kind of elitism. Sunstein's idea owes much to military thinking. It views the public as a kind of enemy.
And there's another interesting aspect of the term "conspiracy theorist" which is that as a pejorative term, it's used to bully, chivvy, and close down discussion. A good example was highlighted when the Climategate emails surfaced. Some prominent environmentalists recognised that there was a problem, that damage had been done, and that the scientists ought to clean up their act. But many other activists demanded that critics disclose the details of their conspiracy theory. (Conjugate this: I have a legitimate alignment of interests, You have a legitimate alignment of interests, He has a conspiracy.)
There's no evidence that Obama is already committing funds to this dubious media exercise. But the speech is undoubtedly useful in preparing the ground for a new kind of media policy.
The anxieties of Obama and Sunstein reflect some lack of frustration with many voters for not engaging with their idea of government. Maybe they're simply not an inspiring vision. In a democracy, the public is always right. ®
Yes, it's the same Cass Sunstein who thinks animals should be able to take you to court. He's a Law Professor.
Additional links in article at site.
What did he mean? He specifically mentioned people who think that government is “inherently bad”. This, he said, puts democracy at risk.
No it doesn’t, it puts it in perspective. Only an asshole that thinks Govt is the answer to everything would assert such a thing. Hampton University, some real stunning intellects there.
And to think that the Washington Post refused to report positive news items on our military operations in Iraq "because we aren't going to carry your propaganda".
wouldn’t that be like a vegetarian opening a butcher’s shop?
Goebbels would be proud!
Orwell called it the Ministry of Truth, or Minitrue. That was 1947; funny how he saw it coming.
And Obama thinks that America and capitalism are inherently bad.
At least in a democracy, the people can voice dissent at the government. Not so in Obama's America 2.0.
Seems like Obama just smacked down the MSM for not doing its job well enough.
Didn’t 35+% of all Democrats believe Bush and Cheney blew up the WTC?
I didn’t hear 0bama bash people for thinking that way. Did any of you?
from article - Apparently people aren't thinking the right thoughts.
I think Glenn Beck is going to cover this on his TV show today. One of the most dangerous people in the group.
The Ministry of Truth was the first thing I thought of too. It’s sad how prescient Orwell was. War is peace.
The Obummer is an a$$hole, plain and simple.
Orwell was right.
This lunatic must be removed from office.
2012 cannot come soon enough.
Obamama wants a Propaganda Ministry, plain and simple.
Hmmmmm, when does this ministry start work? Are they going to ignore when Obama pounced on evil ipads, playstations, etc. when Obama himself is addicted to a crackberry (or were we not supposed to have noticed the hypocracy?)
OK, Mr Obama. Name one Government insurance program or safety net that isn’t run like a Ponzi scheme and wouldn’t be a RICO candidate if it was run outside of Government.
And tell me, Mr. Obama, how is it that so many members of Congress become millionaires while in office and then get a 100% pension to boot when they leave.
And tell me, Mr. Obama, how can we trust our Government when you set the standards for closed meetings and broken promises.
Scientia potentia est
I got to see a superb example of government directed disinformation once. It was almost artistic in its own right, and was in response to “The Phoenix Lights”.
As background, the USAF does research and development on advanced aircraft in Nevada. However, about the only place where planes can go supersonic is way off the coast of San Diego. And getting between here and there is not easy, because the airspace is very crowded. The fastest and safest route is directly over Phoenix, where you will be under the watchful gaze of Sky Harbor airport.
Well, one of these advanced aircraft stripped its transmission, or the equivalent, in the late afternoon, right when it was entering the airspace over Phoenix. Apparently it could still hover, quietly, but otherwise was pretty much dead in the water, slowly drifting with the wind, a few hundred meters above a suburban area, right when people were coming home from work.
And this created a stir. So after the initial reports, that pretty accurately described what was seen, there was a very intense effort to confuse, distract, and otherwise convince everybody that what they saw with their own eyes wasn’t what they had seen.
The public figures, like an ex-governor, city councilmen, lots of police, etc., were told to shut up about it, in no uncertain terms. The local media was (easily) pressured into calling it a “hoax”, then alternatively making fun of it, condemning “UFO nuts”, and showing pictures and videos of other things, like the Phoenix skyline at night, dozens of miles away, etc., while talking about “Bigfoot” and the “Loch Ness Monster”.
But this shows the insidious nature of disinformation. That not only was a mechanism in place to create substantial amounts of disinformation, but someone or a bunch of people, in positions of power and authority, decided that it was *better* to lie to, and deceive the public, than to tell a simple truth.
That is, they could have just come out and said it was a classified aircraft, and that they were not at liberty to discuss it at all, and that they requested that the public not be overly concerned or pester them about it, because, after all, that is what the USAF is *supposed* to do. Make advanced aircraft, and keep them secret.
But they felt it was better to lie to, and threaten respectable people, and to suborn the media to lie to the public on their behalf.
If you think about it, philosophically, the long term effects of their doing this are far worse than whatever it is they were afraid of, and it reminds of how, during the Vietnam War, someone would remark that, “We had to destroy the village to save it.”
Disinformation should be used against America’s enemies, not the American public. Inherent in the use of disinformation is the belief that those you are lying to are stupid, and that you are better than they are.
“For also knowledge itself is power” — thanks had to look up, sums it up.
Bump for later
On Glenn Beck today -— the FCC and Freepress organization want to classify the Internet as a public utility so they can control it. I think there are also plans to tax it.
Not only did the liberal media refuse to report good news in Iraq...they refused to report on or televise the pressers held everyday in two war zones.
The pressers always were attended by many reporters, worldwide. They gave info on good and bad events, the reporters asked every question imaginable.
The answers put things in context and had much info.
But NO! The public was never allowed to see them on the “news”.
Veracity Czar; will ascertain truthfulness ratios in accordance to yet to be determined standards and enforce compliance per administrative regulations.
Just this morning, I posted my old "user-name" (Ministry of Truth) at a small-town forum that defends Socialism and Obama. That forum administrator has just started putting his boot on my throat.
“Sunstein, on leave from Harvard’s Law School”.....
for mental health reasons, no doubt.
“What did he mean? He specifically mentioned people who think that government is ‘inherently bad’”
I guess that includes Thomas Paine, who thought of government as inherently evil (yet necessary). Come to think of it, Tom was prone to extremism, and wasn’t the stablest of thinkers. However good he was for the American cause, he didn’t do Frenchmen any favors. Nor would he do much for any country that happened to adopt his total program as outlined in books not titled “Common Sense” or “The Crisis.”
Still, I wouldn’t want Obama shutting him up.
Jesus said that Satan is the father of all lies, but I am curious about what he would say about the Deceiver In Chief.
Jesus said that Satan is the father of all lies, but I am curious about what he would say about the Deceiver In Chief.
You are only allowed the choices we approve for you.
"Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death."
- George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 2
"And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposedif all records told the same talethen the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'"
- George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 3
Need I go on?
Hillary herself declared "Bush KNEW" in February 2002 from the floor of the Senate.
Bunch of liberal BS! The Obama Regime doesn't want us "bitter clingers" trying to educate ourselves.
They want us to let "The Obama" do all of our thinking for us!